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Schweinfurth Art Center Executive Director Donna Lamb speaks about the annual "Quilts =Art=Quilts " exhibit during her tour Sunday.

AUBURN — From a distance Naomi Velasquez’s quilt looks like a flat picture of multi-colored blocks on a black background, but as the viewer moves closer the blocks appear to move as the 3-D work comes to life.

The work called “Tumbling 2017” is an example of how the Schweinfurth Art Center’s annual “Quilts=Art=Quilts” show has evolved over its 37-year history to focus on the art of quilts, center Executive Director Donna Lamb said Sunday during a tour of the exhibit. 

“Every year we look for a piece that stretches the definition of a quilt,” she said of Velasquez’s work.

The pieces by 65 artists in the exhibit were culled by three judges from 300 entries from across the United States and the world. The result is a show that will attract 4,000 visitors by the time it closes on Jan. 7, Lamb said.


This work, "Tumbling 2017," created by Naomi Velasquez looks flat from a distance but three-dimensional close up. The piece is part of "Quilts =Art=Quilts 2017" at the Schweinfurth Art Center.


"Tumbling 2017" looks flat from a distance.

With 20 visitors tagging along Sunday, Lamb walked through the exhibit, stopping at points to allow artists who were in Auburn for the exhibit’s opening weekend to explain their inspiration and creative techniques. 

Over the years the exhibit’s definition of a quilt has evolved from the traditional covering found on grandma’s bed, which is two pieces of fabric with batting sandwiched between them, Lamb said.

The show now accepts quilted pieces that have just two layers, she said.

The works have also evolved as artists push aside fabric purchased at a store to hand dye their own material, Lamb said.

The show’s quilted pieces were created with fabric, but also with paint, plastic or by printing digital photos on fabric. Others have embellishments, like buttons or sparkles. And one piece was made with strips of old saris purchased from India.

Artist Sharon Carvalho of Sisters, Oregon, explained to visitors that her quilted piece was inspired by digital photos of trees taken by a friend.

A black tree printed on blocks of fabric that were dyed slightly green or yellow is the center of the piece surrounded with lighter fabric.

“It was great fun to produce,” Carvalho said.

The Schweinfurth exhibit is her first international quilt show. “I was very excited it was accepted,” Carvalho said. 

Not all works are sewn. Beth Schnellenberger of Jasper, Indiana, fused the strips of fabric that make up her work “Scorched Earth,” which is featured on the art center’s website announcing the exhibit.

As a result, “the piece almost feels like leather,” she said.

The “Quilts=Art=Quilts” show runs through Jan. 7 at the art center at 205 Genesee St. The center is closed on Mondays. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.